Success rates in Court for drivers who represent themselves are much lower that for those with expert representation.
Who has to prove what?
This means that they have to prove the allegations made against you ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. In real terms, this means that the prosecution need to be able to convince the Court that you have committed the offence or offences so that the Court is 90%+ satisfied that you have indeed committed the alleged offence/s.
For most offences the defendant doesn’t have to prove anything – all the defendant needs to do is to cast a ‘reasonable doubt’ – this amounts to a 10%+ doubt that the prosecutors are correct!
In cases where the offence incorporates a ‘statutory defence’, such as failing to provide driver identity which for example you can defend if you can demonstrate that you used reasonable diligence to try to establish who was driving the vehicle at the time of the offence. In this instance, the defendant is required to prove the ‘statutory defence’ on the ‘balance of probabilities’.
When a defendant is required to prove anything in court, they only have to do so ‘on the balance of probabilities’. This basically means that the court needs to accept that your account is more likely than not to be correct. This means that the court needs to be 51%+ satisfied with your account of events. As the defendant you will not be asked to prove your account of events ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
Should you be accused of not having the appropriate documents (Insurance, MOT, Licence etc) when you were driving a vehicle, the prosecution only need to prove that you drove the vehicle in a public place in order to prosecute you.
The onus then passes to you to prove ‘on balance of probabilities’ that you had the necessary documentation.
This is because the prosecution would need to ask every insurance company in the country in order to check if you were insured. For this reason it is easier to make you provide proof that you were insured, rather than for the prosecutors to gather evidence that proves that you weren’t.
Can I get free advice from the duty solicitor?
You will only receive legal aid if you are facing an imprisonable offence. Because very few motoring offences carry a prison sentence, you are very unlikely to get legal aid to help you to defend a road traffic allegation.
Court Duty Solicitors are unlikely to offer you free legal advice for the same reason. They only get paid for assisting people who are held in custody or are at risk of a potential prison sentence.
Additionally, Court Duty Solicitors are usually ‘general criminal lawyers’ and as such don’t generally have much traffic law expertise.
If you need advice about your alleged motoring offence please click here to ASK US A FREE QUESTION and find out how we can help you.
When you first receive your summons, you should carefully check the following;
The first thing you need to decide is whether you accept that you committed the alleged offence? If you disagree with the facts presented or have a statutory defence then you are in a position to defend the allegation.
You can defend a speeding allegation by denying that you were the driver/were speeding/were on a public road etc.
You might want to defend the allegation of failing to provide driver identity by stating that you used reasonable diligence in order to try to establish who was the driver at the time of the offence… this would be a statutory defence.
You need to be aware of what the prosecution are required to prove and what you will need to prove.
For most motoring offences, the prosecution are required to prove their case against you beyond reasonable doubt, which equates to about 90%+ certainty that the magistrates agree with them. All you are required to do is to cast a reasonable doubt in the minds of the Magistrates in order for the Magistrates to find you not guilty.
In the case of statutory defences, you are required to prove your case on the ‘balance of probabilities’ which means that the court needs to be 51% or more satisfied that you are right in order to find you not guilty.
In order to be able to successfully challenge complex evidence, you will need to present ‘expert evidence’ in order to be able to cast a doubt. We frequently speak to many drivers who attempt to contest complex speeding allegations with laser or radar evidence on the basis that they disagree with the readings provided…… that is not enough to cast a doubt, you need to substantiate your claim with expert evidence.
Sometimes it is possible to demonstrate to the court that the officer didn’t use the device correctly. If you can’t prove that, then you need to be able to prove that the device wasn’t working correctly.
It is not enough just to say that you didn’t think you were going that fast!
Once you have decided that you have a valid defence, or that you don’t agree with the version of events put forwards by the prosecution, you need to indicate your not guilty plea to the court.
Usually you can plead not guilty by post, after which you will be notified of the scheduled court date and when you will need to be present. Make sure that you read all of the court papers carefully when they arrive.
For complex trials, or in instances where there are a number of witnesses who need to give evidence, the court may well list the case for a pre trial review.
If you case is more simple and clear cut, your not guilty plea will be accepted and a trial date will be set.
The Pre-trial review is where the Magistrates court lists your case for trial, bearing in mind the following;
- The number of witnesses for both the defence and prosecution and their availability to attend court.
- The possible need for video or tape player in court for evidence to be viewed.
- Any complex arguments that might well be raised during the trial.
- A timetable for your trial.
On the day of your trial, you should make sure that you arrive at court with plenty of time to spare. Give yourself at least 30 minutes before your case is due to begin.
It is also important to point out that the court isn’t concerned with working around you, but will expect you to work around the court. On the day of your trial, the court has all the authority so whatever happens, remain polite, patient and tolerant at all times.
There will probably be several cases in the schedule to be heard on the same day, and the court will decide the order in which they will be heard.
Bear in mind that you need to create a good impression at all times. If you become angry or impatient then there is a very good chance that the Magistrates will be notified of this by the Court Clerk or Usher and it will affect how the court behaves towards you. Remember to make a good impression during your contact with everyone in the court buildings.
Courts are very busy places and it is important for everyone to wait their turn and remain tolerant of the court process.
I wanted to thank you for all the good and diligent work you have done on my behalf. I am very pleased with the final outcome of my court case and most satisfied with the level of service you provided.
Dear Louise, I would like to express deep appreciation for all the work and effort you've put into my case and for ultimately getting me the decision that I wanted. Your professionalism, ease to communicate with, understanding of my problem and successful result are all testimony to your excellent legal services. I would recommend anybody with a Road Traffic Offence matter to your use your firm as they can be assured of an excellent and thorough service. Thanks again.
Having Googled for a solicitor who had expertise in the area of my alleged offence I found your firm and I have to say it I am so glad I contacted you. From the first phone call the attitude from your office was positive and informative. Once I instructed your firm officially I immediately felt that my case was at last being handled by someone who actually had an interest and knowledge and wanted to provide an exceptional service. All in all a positive experience. My thanks to all who had dealings with my case and especially to Louise for the expediency with which she dealt with the case saving me many sleepless nights. Very professional, honest from the outcome, didn't raise my hopes at getting case discharged at all. Very well done.
It is extremely rare to do a web search and stumble across a firm of any profession, and actually receive a first rate service, but that’s what’s happened in this instance. My hesitation was doubled by the fact they are located 200 miles away from me. From my initial contact through the web site, the call back was very, very fast, and the conversation put you in no doubt you were in safe hands. The contact with the secretaries was fast and efficient. The information from both the Principle Solicitor Emma Patterson and the Solicitor and Senior Case Progression Officer Louise Kippax was professional, useful, thorough and pragmatic. I wish more people in all professional services sector were as down to earth, and say it like it is! Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending this firm. Thank you!
Great Response, Great Advice, Great Service and … Great Result – Thanks.